A,B,C’s to handling criticism

One of the problems plus-sized women run up against is the usually loudly voiced criticism and/ or unsolicited advice from others. I have found this to be irritating because it indicates that the other person either doesn’t believe that I have healthy goals and am trying to reach them or just enjoys trying to embarrass me.

            As a psychologist, I give presentations to various groups on many different topics, including managing stress and establishing healthy habits. Recently, I met with another health care professional about the possibility of us working together on some presentations. I was quite surprised when he made a big issue about my weight and suggested that I wasn’t a good example of being a healthy woman. Of course, he then presented his sales pitch for a weight loss product that he uses with clients. Despite my responses describing how active I am, my lack of interest in trying to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks, and my focus on working with other plus-sized women, he suggested that I change my  presentation and leave the ‘health’ stuff to him.

            Being plus-sized does not make one less intelligent, less knowledgeable, or incapable of relating to an audience. I understand that there are people who place a lot of importance on looking a certain way. But that just doesn’t work for me. I am a real woman who happens to be a tall size 16. I am working on losing weight but not so that others will accept me. I firmly believe that there are women who are dealing with weight challenges and would appreciate hearing from someone who has walked in their shoes.

            So, what do we do when faced with this type of criticism? For many of us, our anger precipitates our response. Maybe we snap back a rude retort which we will certainly regret later, especially if this is a person with whom we spend considerable time such as at work or an organization. There are some better ways to prevent these criticisms from putting us in a sticky situation. Here are three. I call them my A,B,C’s.

            A= Answer back as honestly as you feel comfortable. For example, you could say something like “Thank you for your concern. I am involved in making some healthy changes.” And leave it alone. I don’t suggest giving too much information to people who really are not trying to be helpful or encouraging.

            B= Be firm in your resolve to avoid further references to your weight. Get back on track or change the subject completely. However, if this person is a friend from whom you would like some advice, feel free to ask for help. Schedule a convenient time to discuss food plans or exercise routines. You could plan to take a walk together or try a yoga class.

            C= Cool down. Critical comments that blindside us do hurt our feelings. It is quite easy to blow up but that rarely solves anything. And, holding on to that anger may cause you to forget any healthy plans you had and send you straight to the snack isle at your local grocery.

            Becoming healthy is a journey that will take you to your goal. However, your goal may not be a size 2. Finding your own path will help you stick with it.